A Sustainable Guide to Travelling Light In Barcelona

bikes | © Helen Iles
bikes | © Helen Iles
Photo of Helen Iles
2 October 2019

Marty McFly captured the world’s imagination when he rode a hoverboard in Back to the Future, and a recent prototype test proves that technology has finally caught up and you can ride an actual, real hoverboard! But then, some of the travel options that are popular in Barcelona do seem a little futuristic. Read on to discover what they are.

Bike Rental | © Helen Iles

Barcelona is a comparatively small city, being contained by the sea on the eastern side and the mountains to the west. However, this small space is crammed with activity, and your most sustainable mode of transport, your feet, will need some help if you’re to make the most of your time here. As with most cities, pollution is a problem, so electric-powered vehicles are perfect for travelling around. Public transport in Barcelona is efficient and plentiful, but here we’re looking at more personalised and sustainable ways of getting around.

Where to now? | © Helen Iles


You’ll see a lot of bikes in Barcelona, and a lot of bike paths. Many of the streets, especially in the Old Town, are very narrow and are much better suited to bikes than cars. You’ll even see bikes indicated on the lights at pedestrian crossings, showing how acceptable it is to ride (safely) on the sidewalks here, and how much Barcelona has gotten behind the biking revolution. The most popular ride is the red and white-styled Bicing. However, in order to hire one of these you need a local resident identification number (NIE). Bicing has stations all over the city, and after hours a truck re-distributes to the popular destinations so that in the morning, the stations are fully stocked again. For visitors, there are still plenty of options:

Green Bikes Barcelona are open seven days a week and you can rent a bike complete with locks, helmets and child seats (although helmets are not obligatory in Barcelona except for those under 16 years old). Green Bikes also refurbish bicycles, and for longer stays you can even buy a bike from them and they will buy it back at 50% of the sale price when you leave. If you think you need a bit more help with the hills, then you might want to consider an electric bike.

e-bike rent has a range of e-bikes: from children’s to foldable models, and trekking to mountain bikes for those planning a more adventurous route.

Segway Tour | © Helen Iles


These strange-looking contraptions might remind you of something from a sci-fi film, with their fat tires gliding easily over Barcelona’s cobblestoned streets. They bowl along the seafront at pace, their riders upright and helmeted – and generally wearing a big grin, too. Segways are really only driven by tourists on guided tours, but they do add an exciting other-worldliness to your trip. Families with children over 10 years old will especially enjoy the experience of seeing the sights in a fun new way.


If you do an internet search for ‘scooters’ in Barcelona, you’ll come up with a motorised Vespa-style vehicle, but here we’re talking about the ones you push along with your foot, except you don’t because they’re electric. Very popular with locals, the scooter avoids traffic completely as people just ride them on the sidewalk. Most fold up into a portable form once you’ve reached your destination. Of course, if you long for the Vespa experience but still want to go green, there is also the electric sit-on scooter (over 18s only).

Tuk-tuks or Rickshaws

If you’ve ever travelled in Sri-Lanka, you will recognise these iconic passenger vehicles. In Barcelona, you can take a pedal-powered one – electric ones are prohibited – for between one and six people. They’re a bit more convivial for group tours, and you can even grab an ice cream on the go.

Photo courtesy of Rickshaws Tours, Barcelona


If you’d rather someone else do the work, you can sit back and be guided around the city in a rickshaw. The drivers often try to out-do each other for cool points and you’ll be able to choose from various genres of musical accompaniment. Book your ride online and have them come and collect you from your hotel or simply head down to Port Vell and take your pick.

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